Relationship between religion and politics in malawi

relationship between religion and politics in malawi

The relationship between religion and politics has also become highly topical Tanzania and Malawi display certain similarities which do not relate to religion. A critical Evaluation of the Relationship between the CCAP Nkhoma Synod and maintained a close watch on the way the colonial government in Malawi was. Request PDF on ResearchGate | Religion and politics in Malawi | The nations, and the emergence of strained relations between it and Christianity, have.

These factors make rural Malawi an ideal setting for examining the role of religious organizational networks in responding to the AIDS crisis more closely. Estimates suggest that approximately There is wide variation in HIV prevalence across testing sites from 2. This suggests that some areas have been more successful in avoiding HIV than others, but explanations for these differences remain scant. Malawi differs only slightly from neighboring countries in its proportion of Christians e.

The MDICP is an ongoing longitudinal household survey that examines how ideation, behavior, and risk are shaped through informal discussion networks.

These data focus on three distinct rural districts of Malawi: Balaka in the south, Mchinji in the central region, and Rumphi in the north. While the MDICP sample was intended to represent the populations in the three sampled regions, and not necessarily all of Malawi, it does closely resemble one nationally representative sample — the Malawi Demographic and Health Survey MDHS NSO — on several key factors such as age, education, and select indicators of socioeconomic status Anglewicz et al.

Drawn from rural villages, the sample includes roughly ever married women and of their spouses in each of the interview years,and The survey instrument in Wave III of the MDICP included an expanded set of measures to more accurately capture the shape of religious life in rural Malawi, and important variations within it.

At the same time, the MDICP team fielded two pilot studies aimed at developing better understandings of religion in Malawi by focusing on the organizational level. These various data resources have been used to explore individual level models of religion and HIV-related behaviors and outcomes see section 5.

The Malawi Religion Project design Based on findings from these pilot projects, the Malawi Religion Project MRP was subsequently planned as a large-scale cross sectional, mixed methods data collection project. The data collection during summer included four primary target populations: In Wave III of the MDICPall respondents were asked to report the name of the congregation they currently attend, the name of its leader, and provide a general description of its location.

Defining the sample of congregations was a complex process, since congregations in rural Malawi are frequently hard to identify. It is common, for example, for congregations either to share a building with other congregations or to not have a building. In one of the sites, three established congregations had been meeting under a tree for several years.

Congregations are often known by several names including, but not limited to, the name of the village, the name of the current leader, or the name of the founding leader or mission. As such, the research team refined the congregation list in a multi-stage approach. Of the respondents asked to name the religious congregations in which they regularly participate, provided valid data on this question. Berger argues that modernity very likely, but not inevitably, leads to pluralism and pluralisation of worldviews, 20 values, including religion.

According to Berger, apart from precipitating pluralism, modernity can also 21 lead to secular or religious choices, including the rise of fundamentalism in various forms. Michael Mason asserts that pluralism, which in some circumstances promotes secularization, in others enhances 22 religious participation. Through its gallant denounciation of the old political system, the church played a critical mid-wifery role to the democratic process in the nation.

Historical Perspectives, edited by David S. This analysis also agrees with H. According to Netland, this challenge comes in two forms: Second, it argues that even if it is granted that one religion is superior to the rest and that such a religious perspective might be universally valid, why should Christianity and Jesus be accorded such privilege.

In keeping with above theories, as forces of modernisation found their way in the Malawi society through dynamic encounters with global political forces, the overarching symbol that Christianity represented a national religion disintegrated giving way to pluralism and diverse religious participation in political spaces.

A test case of this was the election of a Muslim President in a largely Christian nation in For the first time the majority Malawian Christians participated in national politics without regard for their religious affiliation. It can be concluded from the foregoing that modernity created the right environment for the mushrooming and assertion of diverse religious traditions in Malawi. In this context Islamic appeared as a significant 24 force in both the social and religious sphere.

Either as a result of its association with political patrons of the day or as a change in its social philosophy, through construction of splendid mosques beside main roads, Islam attained a strikingly visible social presence.

This was in a way an indication that the Muslim community was geared towards getting recognition of their religion on parity with Christianity within the existing social-political structures, from which they had been denied access for years. The new Islamic audacity signified that the gates of religious restriction had opened up and given way to a cacophony of competing religious traditions with Islam becoming a new force to be reckoned with.

In Malawi, modernization and its resulting pluralism has led to an unhealthy ambivalence of both disintegration and harmonization in interreligious relations. Baker Academic, Such character change in religious maintenance comes in different shades, from the rise of religious fundamentalism to increased religious choices. Where this has failed, the second level includes an attack not only on members of other competing religions but also on members from their religious tradition deemed to be compromising the 30 faith in the context of a hostile environment.

The Malawi Religion Project: Data collection and selected analyses

Where modernization has resulted in increased religious choices, acceptance of difference and the building of bridges between religious traditions for peaceful-co- 31 existence becomes the inevitable result. For some Christians, this view is in recognition of the fact that all faith is inter-faith in that faith is formed and practiced in relation with others and that the heart of the gospel is a message of peace and reconciliation which crosses all social and cultural barriers.

This makes 32 positive relationships with other religions a necessary component of Christian practice. In Malawi, modernity and the resulting pluralism in both religious and social perspective, has resulted in a dual response: Disintegration has been evident in the unhealthy competitive spirit among the religions, especially between Christians and Muslims which often expresses itself on the political front, in education, in daily social relationships and institutional tensions.

Harmonisation has been evident through interfaith worship, cooperation in the fight against HIV and AIDS and common religious approach to the safeguarding of democracy and good governance. This 33 represents the unhealthy ambivalence in interreligious relations and is also a common trend in Africa.

Malawi, Religion And Social Profile | National Profiles | International Data | TheARDA

Disintegration in Interreligious Relations One of the most persistent challenges for contemporary Christianity in Malawi is how to respond to the compelling presence of other religions.

Like other African countries, the political front has been one arena in which religious disintegration in Malawi has historically been manifested. There was a visible regret from the general Christian population for having excised their political choice wrongly.

Barnes, Theology and Dialogue of Religions Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,3. This resentment culminated in the burning of mosques when the Muslim president was re-elected in It is sometimes said that the fact that the violence had actually taken place, the lack of urgency in the response of the police and the lukewarm condemnation of the attacks from the 34 majority of the Church leaders showed that the Northern incident was representative of Christian attitudes to Muslims countrywide.

The incident also indicated that although the majority Christian electorate had elected a Muslim President, their religious perspective was still the old exclusivist attitude characteristic of traditional mission position to other religions. This showed that the coexistence of different worldviews and religious traditions under conditions of civic peace and free participation in the political life of the nation for members of different religions remained elusive.

The national education curriculum has been another forum on which interreligious disintegration has manifested itself in Malawi. In the year the church caused a political upheaval when it refused to accept a revised multi-faith religious studies syllabus, which included the teaching of Islam and other 35 religions. While Bible Knowledge as a subject had been indiscriminately taught to all students despite their religious affiliation, the drafting of a multi-faith curriculum during the tenure of a Muslim president and 36 under a Muslim education minister was a cause of alarm.

In order to make good its gate keeper status, a number of mainline Churches threatened to withdraw their schools from the educational system, a move that would potentially cripple the education system especially given that the church owns most schools in the country. Even amidst Islamic protest, the government responded by postponing the proposed plan. This goes against the idea of a secular state where the political framework is to provide neutral space for different religious persuasions and ideological convictions to make their 37 contribution to the value bases of the nation.

Logically in such a situation religious education is to be non-confessional and phenomenological, giving the learners the opportunity to understand the moral and spiritual values of several religions. The same is probably true of Muslim understanding of Christians, which is largely influenced by the historical crusades and possible Christian support for European colonization as will later be shown.

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This tendency is supported by other empirical studies 39 whose results show that interreligious knowledge remains a challenge worldwide. Interreligious disintegration has also been conspicuous at the social level with the Muslim community sometimes taking a rather militant approach.

For example in Junea United States US 40 extraordinary rendition of Muslim foreign workers suspected of being Al-Qaeda operatives sparked Muslim protest and violence that led to the destruction of five churches and the offices of the Save the 41 Children and several people were wounded in the Muslim and Yao dominated district of Mangochi.

relationship between religion and politics in malawi

It is difficult to establish whether such behavior was a reaction to their historical victimisation or was a response to recent trends in global Islamic activities.

However three important observations can be made here. Second, it showed Muslim perception of possible Christian support for Western interference in Malawi in general and in relation to Islam in particular.

relationship between religion and politics in malawi

Third, it shows the extent to which so called 'global war on terrorism' can affect local interreligious relations especially between Muslims and Christians. Moreover, reports of interreligious hostilities between Muslims and specific 42 Christian groups such as the Seventh Day Adventists have been common. Such conflicts sometimes 43 stem from such issues as burial rights for a deceased from a mixed religious family, or whether pigs can 44 be sold in Muslim dominated areas in the market.

All instances result either in violence or Muslim 45 pronouncements that their area is an Islamic state. These incidents have happened in the predominantly Yao Muslim areas. The incidents above serve as an unambiguous indication of religious faultlines in Malawi especially between the predominantly Yao Muslims and the larger Christian population. For example in Malawi there is a significant, though blatantly wrong, association between being a Muslim and being from the Yao tribe.

This makes tribal-religious identity a significant factor in individual decision making. With politicization of religion in the life of the nation, it makes it difficult for the religious communities to look beyond their self-interest when it comes to decisions that involve other religions. Harmonisation in Interreligious Relations Just as there is disintegration in interreligious relations in Malawi, a significant level of harmonization has also been apparent.

Mainly pioneered by the Non-Governmental Organisations NGOthese harmonization attempts have taken the form of interfaith worship, cooperation in the fight against HIV and AIDS and the common approach to the safeguarding of democracy and good governance in the nation. First, interfaith worship has been a significant feature of interreligious harmonization in Malawi.

This has normally served as a forum where members of different religious traditions share a podium in common prayers. In these gatherings all major religious traditions participate in a common spirituality for the good 49 of the nation. Sometimes the significantly conspicuous role of Christians in these services overshadows those from other religions.

However, the impact of these interfaith services, especially since they are broadcast on the national radio and television, is that they serve as a civic forum conducive to educating the people in the multi-religious character of the nation and how religious cooperation is vital to nation [http: Another challenge to the process is that such meetings are often externally organised, planned and funded.

This changes the dynamics of the whole dialogue process.

relationship between religion and politics in malawi

The likelihood of religious leaders participating out of diplomatic necessity, and not out of conviction becomes obvious. However, in spite of these seeming weaknesses, interfaith worship provides a practical approach to informing the Malawians about the need for dialogue and cooperation among the religions in the nation.

One interfaith organization born out of this cooperation is the Malawi Interfaith Aids Association which coordinates religious organisations dealing with HIV issues and 50 programmes in the country.

Although donor and NGO driven, a singular achievement of the organization has been its ability to bring together different religious traditions to jointly tackle the common problem of HIV and AIDS in the country.

However, while enjoying a growing membership, one of its weaknesses has been its non-inclusiveness; its membership mainly comes from the different strands of Christianity and Islam while all other religions are left out. In addition, while the organization represents an interfaith front against HIV and AIDs, its visibility could be improved by being a bit broader in its area of focus.

It can include other interreligious activities that can contribute to a more habitable society for both humanity and the environment such as climate change, gender and human rights.

An interreligious approach to such issues can present a useful forum for dealing with practical problems faced by Malawians and in the process create more visibility for interreligious effort.

relationship between religion and politics in malawi

Third, religions in Malawi have cooperated in the safeguarding of democracy and good governance through the Public Affairs Committee PAC. This is a religious grouping established with the mandate to encourage religious bodies to fulfill their prophetic role in responding to the social and political affairs of 51 the country. It has so far managed to keep in check the excesses of government. The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi.

Malawi is overkm2 45, sq mi with an estimated population of 16, July est. Its capital is Lilongwe, which is also Malawi's largest city; the second largest is Blantyre and the third is Mzuzu. The name Malawi comes from the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area. The country is also nicknamed "The Warm Heart of Africa".

The area of Africa now known as Malawi was settled by migrating Bantu groups around the 10th century. Centuries later in the area was colonized by the British. The Federation was dissolved inand inNyasaland gained full independence and was renamed Malawi.

Upon gaining independence it became a single-party state under the presidency of Hastings Banda, who remained president untilwhen he lost an election. Peter Mutharika is the current president. Malawi has a democratic, multi-party government. Malawi has a small military force that includes an army, a navy and an air wing.

relationship between religion and politics in malawi

Malawi's foreign policy is pro-Western and includes positive diplomatic relations with most countries and participation in several international organisations. Malawi is among the world's least-developed countries.